On season 2, episode 2, host and CEO of Israel Innovation Fund Adam Scott Bellos is joined by guest Gil Troy, historian and author of “Theodor Herzl Zionist Writings.” The three-volume work features 11 years’ worth of Herzl’s writings, including his personal journal, articles and plays, all relating to the formulation of his dream of a Jewish state.
Development of Ideas
Theodor Herzl, the father of modern political Zionists, galvanized the Jewish community and secured widespread support for the Zionist cause through his writings and political activism.
Troy, a longtime historian, explains that it is very important to look at the whole of the writings and not to cherry-pick a quote here or there. As the writings show, Herzl went through profound changes both in his Jewish identity and his feelings towards Jewish assimilation, so it would be dishonest to pluck certain quotes out to support one philosophy or another, he says.
Ultimately, says Troy, the fact that people on opposing political spectrums use Herzl as their inspiration is a sign of his universal meaningfulness to the Jewish people, and not the opposite. As Bellos put it, “Herzl belongs to every Jew.”
Zionism, Herzl’s play that rocked the world
Troy emphasizes that Herzl was both a lawyer and a playwright. He understood that for maximum effect, important ideas must be accompanied by imagery and drama, he says. That permeated everything he did, from the attire at the first Zionist Congress to the plays he wrote about Zionism. Herzl was a failure as a playwright, but in Troy’s words, “He writes the play that rocks the world. It’s called Zionism.”
Leap of hope
One of Herzl’s greatest contributions to the Jewish world was a leap of hope, according to Troy. He not only provided the belief that there could be a better tomorrow, but also a way to get there—something we need today, he added.
“I’m so despairing over the despair. I’m so annoyed and frustrated that people have forgotten how lucky we are to be living in this moment in the United States of America for all its challenges; in Israel, for all our challenges, look how far we’ve come,” he says.
According to Troy, Jews in particular need to be filled with appreciation of how far we have come as a nation, and drink from the wells of a 4000-year-old tradition and history. They need to be “drunk on Zionism and Jewish history.”
“Wine with Adam” with Adam Bellos airs on JNS TV Youtube Channel and on JNS social media platforms on a bi-weekly basis on Wednesdays 8:30 PM IST/130 PM EST. Don’t forget to like, subscribe and click on the bell for notifications. You can also listen to the audio version on Spotify, Apple, Google or wherever you listen to your podcasts.
Enjoy a good conversation and a glass of wine with JNS’ “Wine with Adam.” Featuring the young and quirky Adam Bellos, the show includes interviews with well-known personalities over a bottle of one of Israel’s finest wines. Learn about some of Israel and the Jewish world’s most interesting people with this fun show. Co-sponsored by the Israel Innovation Fund.